Four Steps to Making Amends

Making amends is about others and restoring those relationships that you have broken or damaged. The desire to make amends arises when you’re willing to take responsibility for what happened and the impact it had on those involved. It’s not suitable for everyday mishaps—it’s best used for significant incidents that warrant extra consideration and may simply depend on the importance of the relationship.

When you harm others and make no effort to repair the relationship, you tend to avoid those people and large areas of your life become closed off. When you begin making amends, you have the opportunity to restore your relationships and have those areas open up again.

Seeking to mend a relationship involves forgiving yourself, offering a sincere apology, making necessary restitution, and accepting responsibility by taking steps to avoid making the same mistake in the future.

Step 1: Forgiving Yourself

Being able to make amends to others starts with forgiving yourself. In his tiny buddha® blog Michael Davidson says, “Forgiving yourself is far more challenging than forgiving someone else, because you must live with yourself and your thoughts 24/7.”

When you’ve done something you consider wrong, the accompanying emotion registers in your nervous system. For example, you may feel guilty if you mistreated someone; or you may feel sad, if you made a mistake that cost you a friendship. When these emotions register, they usually contribute to negative thoughts and limiting beliefs you have about yourself, like “I can’t do anything right,” or “I’m a bad person.”

More than anything else, forgiving yourself requires that you acknowledge your actions have consequences for yourself and others. However, any attempt to forgive yourself—before letting go of the negative emotions and beliefs—won’t work. You’ll just continue to berate yourself, because your nervous system is in control.

Step 2: Offering a Sincere Apology

In order for an apology to be effective, it must be genuine and go to the heart of the matter for the person you wronged. Consider carefully what you’re going to say. Be accountable—don’t make excuses or deflect blame. Be sure to include the crucial words, I’m sorry.

  • State what happened.

“I’m sorry I didn’t pay you back when I promised I would.”

  • Acknowledge the impact your actions had on the other person to show that you fully understand.

“I know it was my fault that you had to cancel your vacation.”

  • Express your desire to restore this relationship.

“Our relationship means a lot to me.”

Step 3: Making Restitution

Whether you’ve robbed someone of time, money, property, trust, attention, dignity, or well-being, it’s important to do what you can to restore that which you’ve taken.

The essence of restitution is finding out what the other person needs and determining if, and when, you can provide that. It starts with an inquiry.

  • Ask what the person needs from you to restore the relationship.

“How can I make it up to you?”

Then, let the other person respond. Just listen. If the request is ethical and you’re willing to fulfill on it, you have two options:

  • Agree to their request and time frame.

“I can do that when I get paid on Friday.”

  • Suggest an alternative if you’re unable to comply.

“I can’t pay you in full now, but I will make weekly payments.”

Step 4: Accepting Responsibility

Accepting responsibility is about making a genuine change in your behavior and taking on a whole new way of living.

Everyone has made mistakes, but the only mistakes that will undermine your happiness are the ones you’re unwilling to admit.

Be honest in expressing what you’ve learned from this mistake. This helps the other person trust that you’re sincerely making amends for your past behavior. Describe the ways in which you’re making changes in your life to refrain from repeating the wrongdoing.

  • Admit your transgression.

“I was wrong to take your money and not honor my agreement.”

  • Tell what you’ve learned.

“I’ve learned that I’ve been totally unreliable about money.”

  • Declare any action(s) you’re taking.

“I’m participating in a debt management course, and I’m having 10% of my paycheck directly deposited into a savings account.”

Keep it simple. A long apology will start to lose its power. Make your points clearly and effectively.

Give the other person time to respond. Grant them the space, time, and freedom to vent, if necessary. Be willing to listen without judgment and accept their point of view, even if some of their perceptions of the situation seem inaccurate. They have every right to feel the way they feel.

Keep in mind, although making amends can free you, it doesn’t always mean that the relationship will be restored—or that the process will be sufficient for the other person to forgive you.

In the Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-Step program, Step 9 states, “Make direct amends to those people you have harmed wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” When direct amends is not possible or appropriate, there are many ways to complete the four-step process without personal contact. For example: you could write the person a letter; you could imagine yourself having a conversation with the other person; you could create a collage. Your mind does not know the difference between what is real and imagined, which is why visualization is so powerful.

You will be amazed how clean the slate becomes by making amends. Remember to be gentle with yourself throughout the process.

If someone is making amends to you, let them. Be generous and be gracious. Refrain from making the restitution you request out of proportion with what they did.

This is where Resonance Repatterning® comes in. This method, developed by Chloe Faith Wordsworth, releases the resonance with any unhealed parts of yourself that would keep you from forgiving yourself and/or others. You may want to consider going to the Repatterning Practitioners Association website and choosing a certified practitioner you feel guided to working with and give them a call. You’ll be amazed at the results.

May the wisdom inside you take you on a journey into your heart where your greatness abides. Now, that’s living a heart-centered, extraordinary life!

Lovingly Submitted,

Victoria Benoit, M.C.

Healer, Speaker, Amazon #1 Bestselling Author, What Would Love Do Right Now?  A Guide to Living an Extraordinary Life.

What Would Love Do Right Now in Opening Your Heart?

Opening your heart fully may require courage to release resentment, animosity, or guilt associated with the past. It’s really about accepting your humanity and the humanity of others.

Forgiveness

Freeing yourself from resentment and animosity toward others may be accomplished through forgiveness. There are many interpretations of what it is to forgive another.

My aha moment came when I read Doreen Virtue’s Forgiveness card. I realized that forgiving someone doesn’t mean what they did is okay, it simply means I’m no longer willing to hold onto any negative feelings in response to what happened—I don’t have to forgive the action, just the person, to be at peace.

In the PragerU.com video on forgiveness, Stephen Marmar explains that forgiveness is a very complex concept. He reviews three types of forgiveness: exoneration, forbearance, and release.

Exoneration is when a person is truly sorry for hurting you and takes full responsibility (without excuses) for what they did, as well as assures you that they will not do it again—it wipes the slate entirely clean and restores the relationship.

Forbearance is when an offender makes an inauthentic apology, or blames you somehow for causing them to behave badly. It leaves you with a degree of watchfulness yet cautiously optimistic, like forgive but not forget or trust but verify, and allows you to preserve relationships with people who, while far from perfect, are still important to you.

Release is critically important for your well-being: it allows you to let go of what’s weighing you down and eating away at your chance for happiness. It does not require that you continue the relationship, but like Doreen Virtue’s concept, it asks that you let go of your bad feelings and preoccupation with the negative things that have happened to you.

Stephen Marmar concludes with, “To forgive may be divine, but when we understand its dimensions, we find that it is within our ability to do it.”

If you need an apology to forgive someone you’re unable to locate, or who is deceased, write a letter from them to you and mail it to yourself. When you read it a few days later, imagine it’s coming from the other person, allow yourself to receive the apology, and forgive them.

Forgiveness Specific to Child Abuse

Child abuse is one of the most difficult experiences to resolve, release, and heal. Some people assume the guilt and try, for many years, to forgive their abuser(s) without success, while others are determined not to forgive and are left living with the ongoing shame, pain, and hate without relief.

According to Bert Hellinger’s philosophy of forgiveness—relative to children who have been psychologically, physically, or sexually abused—if a child forgives the abuser, in addition to the abuse the child suffered, the child will assume the guilt and responsibility for the abuser’s behavior. Therefore, he insists that the child must not forgive the abuser. Based on Hellinger’s philosophy, Magui Block’s book, Healing the Family, presents a process through which abused children can heal themselves from the pain they’ve endured by giving the guilt and responsibility for the abusive behavior back to the abuser.

This is where Resonance Repatterning® comes in. This method, developed by Chloe Faith Wordsworth, releases the resonance with any unhealed parts of yourself that would keep you from forgiving yourself and/or others. You may want to consider going to the Repatterning Practitioners Association website and choosing a certified practitioner you feel guided to working with and give them a call. You’ll be amazed at the results.

May the wisdom inside you take you on a journey into your heart where your greatness abides. Now, that’s living a heart-centered, extraordinary life!

Lovingly Submitted,

Victoria Benoit

Healer, Speaker, Amazon #1 Bestselling Author, What Would Love Do Right Now?  A Guide to Living an Extraordinary Life